Introducing the Detroit X Lists: Xconomy’s Guide To Michigan Innovation

Did you know that Detroit has an image problem? Strange, but true.

Just recently, “Dateline NBC” did a report on Detroit, “City of Heartbreak and Hope,” that has us, once again, talking about how the world perceives us. It’s become a big debate around these parts. 

Well, cartoon images aside (NBC has been criticized for showing mainly “heartbreak” and little “hope”), many of us here in the actual city and surrounding communities tend to wear our underdog reputation as a badge of pride. We do that because the “image problem” is largely one of how the outside perceives us versus the more-nuanced truths we know about the real Detroit. We can laugh at the straw Detroit, since, well, many of us revel in that “badass” image. But we know that at least part of Detroit’s image problem is rooted in very real problems on the ground. And those of us who remain here do so because we see perhaps what few outsiders can see: seeds of real hope and change.

We hope that our reporting so far at Xconomy Detroit has pointed out where some of these seeds are being nurtured, without sugar-coating any of the deep problems and challenges ahead.

Yes, this is a long-winded way of introducing Xconomy Detroit’s newest feature: the X Lists. It’s a list of resources for those who are interested not in the “image” of Detroit, but in the more-nuanced real Detroit, where public and private organizations and individuals are helping to redefine what it means to be a Detroiter.

Like I told Bill Mitchell, when he wrote about our launch in the journalism publication Poynter Online, much of what we will report on in Xconomy Detroit will be attempts to get things moving, to show that the seeds of a diversified economy have always existed, even within the auto industry. The X Lists are a further illustration of how that is happening.

Our jobs and employment pages, for example, link not only to traditional jobs listings, but also to Michigan’s nationally praised No Worker Left Behind program, which focuses on retraining auto workers to new jobs in the green economy. Universities are big parts of the equation, and they are partnering with Michigan companies in very specific ways to get the labor force ready for what’s next.

Detroit’s TechTown and other business incubator programs are not here as a luxury for those who dream of someday owning their own businesses. In many respects, it is aid to the unemployed, since the choice for many people is to leave the state or try to launch a new business. We hope the X Lists help in guiding potential entrepreneurs toward the right programs—and also showcasing for outsiders what is really happening here.

Law firms catering to startups, business plan contests, attempts at launching industry clusters, and, of course, a complete listing of venture capital and angel groups round out the lists. Even those who live and work in Southeast Michigan might be pleasantly surprised at all the resources available. 

Of course, the X Lists, like Detroit itself, is a constant work in progress. Did we leave anything out? Please contact me and we’ll add it.

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